WORTLEY MONTAGU, Hon. Sidney (1650-1727), of Wortley, Yorks.
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Family and Education
b. 28 July 1650, 2nd s. of Edward Montagu, M.P., 1st Earl of Sandwich, by Jemima, da. of John, 1st Baron Crew of Stene. m. c.1676, Anne Newcomen (b. 2 Sept. 1659), nat. da. and h. of Sir Francis Wortley, 2nd Bt. (d.1666), of Wortley, Yorks., and assumed add. name of Wortley, 5s. 2da.
Sidney Montagu, who took the name Wortley on marrying the heiress to the Wortley estates in S. Yorkshire, used his wife’s fortune to acquire and develop extensive coal mining interests in Northumberland and Durham, where he and his relations had opportunities of acquiring leases of church lands on favourable terms, through his uncle Nathaniel, Lord Crew, bishop of Durham 1674-1721. By the close of Anne’s reign, he had become one of the greatest coal owners of the day, actively co-operating with other representatives of the industry in Parliament on matters affecting their joint interests, and on the directorate of a powerful coal cartel formed in 1709. In 1716 his defection led to the break up of the cartel, earning him considerable unpopularity among his former associates, who regarded him and his agent as
two of the greatest rogues that ever a county was blessed withal. They will, by right or wrong, come at means to purchase estates, but at last must go to the devil.
Ten years later he joined with two other major coal proprietors, George Bowes and the Liddells, to form a new cartel, the Grand Alliance, ‘which dominated the coal trade for the rest of the century’.1
A lifelong Whig, Wortley, in his son’s words,
was always zealous for the Protestant succession, voted for the exclusion of the Duke of York, voted for settling the Crown in the family, lived to be in Parliament after the King’s [George II’s] accession, and never asked anything for himself.2
Returned on his family’s interest for Huntingdon and on his own for Peterborough, he voted for the septennial bill in 1716, but was absent from other recorded divisions.
In old age Wortley is described as
a large, rough-looking man, with a huge, flapped hat, seated majestically in his elbow chair, talking very loud and swearing boisterously at his servants.3
He died 9 Nov. 1727, having survived his wife and his male children, except his second son, Edward, who succeeded to all his coal mining interests as well as to the settled Wortley estates.